Packed Events Calendar Will Spur Rise in Hotel, Air Prices

After two years in which events have been wiped off the calendar, it is a little churlish to bemoan that they are back, and vigorously.

Many cities depend on them for jobs inside and outside of the hotel industry, and cities such as Düsseldorf absolutely rely on them.

During last week’s half-year earnings call, Accor’s CEO and chairman Sébastien Bazin underlined the importance of events to his company’s future health, focusing on such fall 2022 events as Munich’s Oktoberfest.

I wrote an article about the cancellation of 2020’s Oktoberfest, which was one of the first major events to be canceled due to the pandemic. Its cancellation both in 2020 and 2021 must have produced palpitations in many a Munich heart, and for the hotelier and airline bosses serving the market.

Oktoberfest had only been canceled since its creation in 1810 due to World War II and two cholera outbreaks in 1854 and 1873.

This year it is back, running between Sept. 17 and Oct. 3. Cheers!

I read this morning that Wales’ principal cultural festival, the Eisteddfod, is another event that is returning this year. It hasn’t been held since 2019.

In these events lie an opportunity to increase travel demand, airline fares and hotel average daily rates, which also had been largely eradicated from the map due to the pandemic.

Airfares, however, are getting silly.

It used to be that if one shopped around a little a transatlantic air fare from London to New York City would be around 750 pounds sterling ($ 911).

I know this as I lived in New York City for many years and am from London, so I flew that route often.

Now, fares on that route are hovering around 1,800 pounds sterling ($ 2,187) – that is, if you want a ticket for a refundable, direct flight.

I searched an online travel agency website for a Monday flight returning on a Friday that falls in prime business-travel season, and that was the price I received.

Referring to the current strength of the US dollar against other currencies, I heard Jan Freitag, national director of hospitality analytics at CoStar, say recently, “for Americans, Europe is on sale, but the skies are complicated.”

I studied rudimentary economics at school, so the above might be a case of demand versus supply and the elasticity of price across that equation, but there will be a lot of potential hotel guests that are priced out of the market, especially for an event such as Oktoberfest that I assume for most is not a business event. There is sufficient domestic demand for the event, too.

The hotel industry’s recovery has been led by rate, as we know, and the price of the room is getting heady, too.

I recently stayed in an economy US roadside hotel because it was convenient to a very early morning trip I was taking the next morning, and my rate was $ 112.

I would have paid 40% less than that in 2019.

Some hoteliers talk about there being a flattening of the market in early 2023 and through that year as an initial surge of pent-up demand, both leisure and business, evaporates to some degree, but I am not so sure.

The good news for hoteliers is I really see travel as a right, certainly as we all have placed so much more emphasis on mental health.


A hotelier came to the forefront last week in Wiltshire, England.

I read with great delight that a chef at Old Bell Hotel in Malmesbury, reputedly England’s oldest hotel having opened in 1220, gave chase to a driver who crashed his car into an adjacent shop but then tried to run off without facing the repercussions.

The 34-room hotel has a very celebrated restaurant and is in a Grade I-listed building, therefore having the highest level of architectural protection granted by government.

No one was hurt, but chef Dean Wade decided to ask the perpetrator why he would do such a thing, although it took him 15 minutes and a flock of emus to do so.

Emus?

Yes, apparently, the fleeing man made the unwise decision to jump into a field to escape, not knowing it was part of the Malmesbury Animal Sanctuary and patrolled by large, flightless birds that defend themselves with extraordinarily strong thrusts of their large bills.

Damaged and annoyed, the man was soon tracked down by a police helicopter, according to the BBCand was “arrested on suspicion of failing to stop, dangerous driving and causing actual bodily harm.”

I expect the prisoner is now embarrassed and “ostrich-cized.”

And I just checked the hotel-restaurant’s menu, and emu does not feature.

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